We trace the history of a unique, locally built special that started off life with a Morris Minor engine before finally gaining Rover V8 power. Like virtually all Kiwi specials, this car was put together on a shoe-string budget by one man – in this case Dan Cole-Baker, a teacher from Raglan.

In 1959 when Dan was serving with the RNZAF in Singapore, by sheer coincidence as he was strolling past a garage he heard a car start up, reverse out onto the road and drive away. That car was a Ferrari 250, the first example of the marque Dan had ever seen. Having been immediately captivated by the Italian sports car, when he returned to his hometown in 1960 but not having the money to buy the genuine item, he decided to build his very own ‘Ferrari’. Although he had no prior training in either motor-body building or automotive engineering, Dan was obviously a man who embraced a typical Kiwi ‘can-do’ attitude.

As you’d expect, Dan’s budget didn’t run to the use of a Ferrari V12 engine. Instead he opted for a Morris Minor engine, gearbox and rear-end – the only such items he could buy new at the time. With that initial decision made, following Ferrari’s own techniques Dan constructed a space-frame chassis using half-inch tubing and then set to work hammering aluminium sheets over sand-bags, slowly shaping them to form a Ferrari-esque coupé. Effectively the finished car was a 7/8-scale Ferrari, its overall dimensions dictated by Dan’s choice of the Morris mechanicals. The car’s independent front suspension also utilised Morris components, most notably the use of torsion bars and links.

Dan christened the car as the Cole-Baker Special, and as well as using the car on the road, he also competed in events such as the Hullbright Road hillclimb in Waiuku.

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